Film adaptations of video games have not gone down too well. In fact, not a single one has a rating of at least 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. On the other hand, original films centred on video games haven’t fared so badly, with Tron, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World and now Wreck-It Ralph showing us how it’s done.
The film takes place in the present day in an arcade. During the day, all the video game characters fulfil their roles in the games they originate from as kids play them. During the night, after the arcade closes, the characters are able to travel to other games, all connected via a central arcade hub. For three decades, Ralph has been the bad guy in the game Fix-It Felix Jr and disregarded by the game’s other characters, whereas the titular protagonist has been lauded. Ralph decides he doesn’t want to be a bad guy anymore and leaves his game to prove he can be a good guy, upsetting the state of affairs in the process.
I heard this film was good, but it ended up being much better than I expected. It’s not a Pixar film but resembles one in many ways, with its art style and the general quality of the film itself. The four main characters are voiced by top actors. Felix Jr is voiced by Jack McBrayer of Kenneth from 30 Rock fame. It seems as if McBrayer was just being Kenneth in the role of Felix, which was fine by me as Kenneth is my favourite character from that show. Providing an opposite personality is Jane Lynch, who seems to have become a typecast of that woman who doesn’t take crap from anyone. Her character, Sergeant Calhoun (the main character from the first person shooter Hero’s Duty), is exactly as you’d expect if you’ve seen Lynch in Glee, Role Models and Two and a Half Men. John C. Reilly as Wreck-It Ralph creates a straight-forward character we can identify with; he’s a guy who’s not happy with who he is. Sarah Silverman as Vanellope, a young girl from the kart-racing game Sugar Rush, becomes a likeable and charming character later on, which was great as I had a feeling she would be the weak link when she first opened her mouth. While being very different characters, Ralph and Vanellope both have a common goal to be someone special, which is a very familiar theme (not saying that’s a bad thing).
As a fan of retro games, I was enthralled by all the references. I believe that the Fix-It Felix Jr game is inspired by the original Donkey Kong arcade game. The art style and the use of actual existing video game characters result in fantastic fan service for gamers as well as making the video game world believable. This film is full of surprises, so I won’t mention any of the references. In saying that, some of the references are so obscure even a hardcore gamer might not catch them. The plot is relatively simple but has depth, heart and charm, which is complimented by the soundtrack and the visuals. You know an animated film is well done when you’re trying to resist shedding tears, and Wreck-It Ralph did it for on more than one occasion.
If there were weak points, I’d say that the film could’ve been a bit funnier and no cameo by Mario definitely hit me where it hurts. Although I guess it’s good they didn’t just awkwardly include him for marketing appeal.
The 3D is pretty good in this film, and there are some moments where it really shines, however 2D viewers won’t miss out on anything as the movie is great anyway. Watching it in 3D is definitely a nice bonus, but it’s essential.
You don’t have to be a gamer at all to enjoy this movie, as it targets a family oriented audience, but nonetheless gamers will definitely enjoy it the most, especially with the references and the recognisable characters. It would be easy to mistake this for a Pixar film (which is a compliment in the highest form) because it is a real joy to watch. It’s a family film, but adults will still enjoy it nonetheless. In fact, everyone can enjoy it, so go see it!
Another reason Wreck-It Ralph could be mistaken for a Pixar effort is the short film before the main feature. It’s a love story presented in black and white and features a fantastic use of symbolism to create meaning. A man and a woman encounter each other on public transport and the woman catches the man’s paper caught by the wind and leaves a lipstick mark on it. After they depart ways the man tries to get her attention after spotting her again. It’s a much better love story than Twilight. Ok, to be fair I haven’t read nor seen Twilight but my point is that this seven minute short film is quite lovely and I’m glad that Disney attached it to Wreck-It Ralph for moviegoers to enjoy.